16th Children’s Literature Festival (CLF) starts in Karachi – Bigger and Better!

Sameer Nazir
After the success of 4th Teacher’s Literature Festival (TLF) yesterday, the 16thChildren’s Literature Festival (CLF) in the country and 2nd one in Karachi was successfully inaugurated by Idara-e-Taleem-o-Aagahi (ITA) and Oxford University Press (OUP) at the Arts Council of Pakistan in Karachi. This year CLF is being held in support of the ‘I am Karachi’ campaign that aims to inculcate a sense of hope, pride and ownership in the citizens of Karachi to collectively strive for a peaceful city.
The festivities of the day began with a heart-warming opening ceremony, with splendid performances by the ‘Mandir Masjid’ Choir of Karachi High School and students from the Garage School. The Welcome Address was given by BaelaRaza Jamil, Founder of CLF and Director Programs ITA. Wajiha Naqvi, Founding Member, I am Karachi; Nargis Sultana, Senior Program Officer Open Society Foundations (OSF); Owais Sheikh, Head of Liabilities HBL; and Dr. FazlullahPechuho, Additional Chief Secretary, Education and Literacy Program, Sindh also addressed the students, teachers, resource persons, guests and others present at the ceremony.
In lieu with efforts of I am Karachi and the troubling security situation of the country, this year CLF’s main focus was on promoting a message of peace. Hence, this CLF was dedicated to the survivors of the Peshawar Attack that took place at the Army Public School (APS) on December 16, 2014. Eleven of these young survivorsand their parents as well as mothers of four of the students, who lost their lives in the incident, attended the CLF. They were welcomed by a cheering crowd that also gave them a standing ovation. Asfand, a victim of the Peshawar incident – his mother shared her thoughts about the ceremony and the loss of her son. While Saad, a survivor of the incident, also told his story and thanked the organizing committee of CLF and the attendees for their support. When the survivors shared their stories and their thoughts, no one at the ceremony could manage to keep a dry eye. With passion in their hearts and tears in their eyes, the crowd commemorated these brave ones while students from other schools vowed to become dedicated students.
An animation video was also included in the ceremony, titled Tribute to the Children of Peshawar, facilitated by FauziaMinallah, Member, Board of Directors, CLF. The ceremony ended with the traditional balloon releasing ritual after the official countdown to mark the start of the festival. The national anthem was also sung by the crowd in union, with solemnity.
Notable personalities from the field of Academia and Literary World including HaseenaMoin, RumanaHussain, AmraAlam, Zubeida Mustafa, FahmidaRiaz, Adeel Hashmi, and many others actively participated in CLF as contributors and moderators. Adnan Siddiqui and SharmilaFarooqi gave exceptional story telling performances which the children thoroughly enjoyed. Mr. NisarKhuhro, Member Pakistan People’s Party also attended the event and visited the multi-sensory stalls.
Along with dramatic reading and storytelling sessions, other interesting sessions were also conducted at CLF. With ‘Khichri of Curriculum and Language’, experts looked at the presently taught and discussed how the curriculum can be made more relatable for the children. SarwatGillani conducted a session titled ‘Recycled Pakistan’ which featured a life size art piece created by students under her direction. While sessions such as ‘Superhero Me!’, ‘Amai and the Bird of Light’ and workshops such ‘Stop Motion Short Films’ generated a lot of interest from the students. Dheree Bolo also organized a concert for the children with Children’s songs in Urdu. Cheers and sound of clapping could be heard at the festival throughout the day.
CLF also hosted several book launches this year by CLF publications, including RumanaHussain’sTota Khan aurBakriArakaSafarnama; Literary Heritage Series for Young Readers by FahmidaRiaz and many others. The 8th Edition of CLF’s publication, UranTashtaree, was also launched at the event.
At the CLF, attendees also had a chance to learn about newly emerging media and technology that can be used to revolutionize the experience of classrooms for students, organized by Toffee TV and 3iLogic. Ilm Ideas, Dheree Bolo, HBL Money Club Money Maza, Sindh Reading Project, Sindh Education Foundation (SEF) and several other organizations set up multi-sensory stalls to introduce methodologies which can be used to make teaching a more interactive experience for children.
Several interactive and learning sessions such as Wings of Freedom by Zheela Ali Khan, Peace for Pakistan by Salma Habib and many others were also conducted to making CLF a wholesome experience. Students from schools from all over Karachi participated in the festival in large numbers to make CLF, day one, a huge success.

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